Reflection Blog

Wow. It has now been four days since we returned home despite United Airlines best effort to keep us traveling. I honestly thought that we would never make it to Kansas City. Our flight was cancelled in Washington then our connecting flight to MCI from Chicago was temporarily cancelled due to engine malfunction. It honestly felt like a joke. Fortunately, for me and many others, such a series of unfortunate events did not overshadow the incredible experience we had abroad! Now that I’ve had time to reflect on the trip, I can say it was the best decision I’ve made in quite some time. I decided that it was so great because of our amazing leaders, John and Amanda, and the group that we went with. I did not expect to meet so many great people in SELF, and become closer to my fellow BLPs that I’ve spent the whole year with! My favorite part of the trip was the weekend excursion to Portorož/Piran.

Now that I’m back in America, it is safe to say I’m having withdrawals. The four-course meals, the incredible scenery, the fascinating company visits; I loved it all. Next summer, I hope to find a group to study abroad for a longer term. I have the Europe bug!

-Wyatt Lewis Gaddy

Day 9 Blog

On the final day of our trip, we traveled to northwestern Slovenia to visit a ski manufacturing company called Elan. We spent most of the afternoon and evening in Bled enjoying the beautiful lake and mountain scenery seen on postcards. In Bled, we enjoyed my favorite meal of the trip at a 3-star resort that deserves a star or two higher, in my humble hotel-rating opinion. Before roaming around the lake and wandering through unique souvenir shops, our group visited the local university called Bled School of Management, or IEDC for short. I felt like this visit was the most applicable to the things we learned and worked towards in BLP this year. Though the center is focused on management development for undergrads, graduate, and doctorate students alike, I was surprised to hear that the school focuses more on the development of the character of its students. One thing that resonated with me was when the professor noted that many of the jobs that we will have in the future do not exist yet. This is why it is crucial that students are given a platform for success rather than a large pool of facts. I felt like I was sitting in on a typical BLP class because we strove to develop our professional skills and leadership throughout the year. I walked away from this visit more inspired than ever.

 

-Wyatt Lewis Gaddy

Day 8 Blog

Out of the plethora of company visits we’ve conducted, none was more fascinating than the visit we took to Krka, a generic pharmaceutical company in Novo Mesto. Why exactly was this visit the most fascinating? For one, the company sat on a large campus composed of several facilities housing raw materials, production, finished goods inventory, operations, and just about anything in between. We started our tour in one building and made our way effortlessly through doors and rooms, up and down, floor after floor, only to end at the spot we started. I’d imagine that one could spend a half day walking through the campus in its entirety. It was astounding. I was even more amazed by the autonomous production inside said facilities. The guide took us on an elevator that had the capacity to hold all 30 of us, and more. The elevator traveled down several stories, stopping at each level to display the step of production. A great majority of the company’s production is generic, prescription medicines while about 15% are non-prescription and veterinary products. With that being said, we were given a chance to see the production, storage, and packaging, most of which is completed with robots. This fascinated me on a business level as the company has managed to erase nearly all direct labor costs. The result could be a steeper overhead but a more profitable option in the long-term.

 

-Wyatt Lewis Gaddy

Day 7 Blog

Upon our return from Portorož this morning, we took a slight detour to a small town and visited an aircraft manufacturer called Pipistrel. We also visited a start-up accelerator later in the day when we returned to Ljubljana where we listened to business pitches from a couple entrepreneurs/team members. The most interesting part of the day occurred late in the afternoon when we were visited by the head of public relations for the United States Embassy in Slovenia. Although we’ve met some amazing Slovenes on the trip, it was nice to see and hear from another American and listen to his take on this beautiful country. The thing that interested me the most was the discussion about the proximity of the Russian embassy to the American. Apparently this is the case in only one other country. After engaging in conversation with our fellow American, I found myself more interested in the thought of a foreign relations job when I’m older. The thought of stepping out of my comfort zone and representing America while learning and engaging in a different culture really gets my blood pumping.

 

-Wyatt Lewis Gaddy

Day 6 Blog

Our free day in Piran was highlighted in large part by a round of golf Rex, Marty, William, Noah, Jack, and myself played in the morning. Starting at nearly 7:00 a.m., we hailed a taxi and traveled across the border to Croatia where we enjoyed a round at the local course called Golf Adriatic. I am personally not the greatest at golf; still, I enjoyed the round all the same as the weather was tremendous and the course was gorgeous in the Croatian countryside. We played at a steady pace, enjoying the scenery and taking in the event, even letting several groups play through us. The most interesting part of this experience was in the clubhouse talking to a Croatian employee. She explained that the language of Croatian is similar to many surrounding countries’ languages including but not limited to: Italy, Slovenia, Serbia, and German. In fact, Croatian grade students are required to take Italian and English or German courses throughout primary schooling. The lady said that many Croatians are fluent in at least four languages, if not more. I find this very fascinating and think that America faces serious problems from the lack of attention placed on learning foreign languages.

 

-Wyatt Lewis Gaddyboys boys boys.JPG

Day 5 Blog

Venice, Italy completely exceeded all the expectations I had for it. The boat ride from Piran to Venice took about 2.5 hours but it was well worth it, despite the poor weather. In the short four hours we had there, I felt as though Noah, Marty, Jack, and myself appropriately allocated our time to several things. To start, we found a nice little restaurant to have lunch in a small square off the beaten tourist path. I enjoyed this because Marty and I shared a pizza even though we also both ordered pasta dishes. Go big or go home. Next, we visited the Rialto Bridge and surrounding area before deciding to take a Gondola throughout the grand and surrounding canals. This was very enjoyable as the weather began clearing up and we felt as though it was a must when visiting the city. After this, we went up the Basilica of San Marco’s campanile where we were given an astounding view of the city. This had to be my favorite part because it really gave me an appreciation for the magnificence of Venice. Finally, we visited some luxury designer stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, and Hermes. Each time we walked in these stores, security was notified to keep an eye on us because Marty had a backpack. With all those expensive items, I guess this precaution makes sense! All in all, in my humble opinion, I would have to say we did Venice the best.

-Wyatt Lewis Gaddy

venice marty and I.JPG

Day 4 Blog

On the fourth day in Slovenia, we departed from Ljubljana to spend the weekend in Portorož/Piran, neighboring towns on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Before that, we took a slight detour to Idrija, a city located in the mountainous countryside, to visit an aluminum die-casting company called Hidria. The company produces parts for high-quality automobile lines like Volkswagen, BMW, and Jaguar. Funny enough, while we were touring the company’s production facility, a computer screen showed a background of President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. I thought this was interesting because although Melania is Slovene-American, the picture didn’t necessarily have to have her husband in it.  It seems as though, despite all the media attention and controversy surrounding President Trump, Slovenia is proud to claim Melania as one of their own, as they should be.

-Wyatt Lewis Gaddy

Trump pic